Code Of Hammurabi Laws Compared To Today's Laws

Compare and contrast the Code of Hammurabi and today's legal system.

Expert Answers
mkoren eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There are some similarities and differences between Hammurabi’s Code and today’s laws. One similarity is that both sets of laws are written laws.  These laws cover many similar topics. For example, they include laws dealing with family matters, assault, and compensation. The purpose of the laws was to discourage people from treating other people poorly and from breaking the law. Some laws were considered to be reasonable. For example, if a person owed money to somebody, but a disaster occurred and that person couldn’t harvest any grain, then that person wouldn’t have to give any grain to the person to whom he owed money and also wouldn’t have to pay any rent for that year.

There are some differences between the laws. The laws treated people differently. The laws treated the wealthy differently than the average person. The concept of an eye for an eye is an example. If a man took the eye of a wealthy person, that man would lose his eye. If the man took the eye of a common man, he would have to pay a monetary amount. Another difference is that an accuser was required to bring the accused to court. Additionally, if a person jumped into the Euphrates River and returned to shore, that person was considered to be innocent. We don't operate like this in our legal system.

Both sets of laws have similarities and differences.

thanatassa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The Code of Hammurabi is one of the earliest written legal systems. Like modern legal codes, it attempts to set out classes of crimes and appropriate punishments in a fair and just manner.

The main distinction is that the Code of Hammurabi is created for a smaller and less complex society than ours and goes into great detail on some issues that we leave to the free market, such as wages, but is often less intricate and less reliant on precedent than our own. It assesses penalties in terms of retribution and restitution; incarceration, which is a major feature of our system, is not a standard punishment.

Another major difference is that laws apply differently to different types of people. Our legal system makes quite limited distinctions between minors and adults and also has specific sections addressing diminished responsibility (the mentally ill, people with dementia, or people otherwise incapacitated or disabled), while Mesopotamian laws distinguish between men and women, slaves and free, and rich and poor, with different laws or penalties applying to each class of person.

litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I think the best way to help you would be to point you to some links for research.  Hammurabi's code is often referred to as the basis for our modern legal system.

Here you go: